In 2012, facing the death of his father and impending fatherhood, Toby Ferris set off on a seemingly quixotic mission to track down and look at—in situ—every painting still in existence by Pieter Bruegel the Elder, the most influential and important artist of Dutch Renaissance painting.
The result of that pursuit is a remarkable journey through major European cities and across continents. As Ferris takes a keen analytical eye to the paintings, each piece brings new revelations about Bruegel’s art, and gives way to meditations on mortality, fatherhood, and life. Ferris conjures a whole world to which most of us have probably lost the key, and in the process teaches us how to look, patiently and curiously, at the world.
Short Life in a Strange World is a dazzlingly original and assured debut—a strange and bewitching hybrid of art criticism, philosophical reflection, and poignant memoir. Beautifully illustrated with sixty-six color images, it subtly alters the way we see the world and ourselves.